Reflections on the Samara Summit between the European Union and Russia

New Imperialist Fronts on the Horizon

Comrade Mauro Stefanini wrote in an article in Prometeo, June 2003:

The objective of the now desperate war policy of the ruling clan of the USA is to hold up, if not to avoid, the joining together of the Euro-zone and Russia.

This is where one must begin if one wishes to fully understand the outcome of the Samara summit last 17-18th of May. The twice-yearly summit, which did not set off in the best of circumstances, thus rendering optimistic expectations somewhat out of place, confirmed the objective tendency towards the re-shuffling of imperialist fronts. This has obviously accelerated a whole series of processes of re-composition, especially after the creation of the euro, which, although characterised by an evolution which is anything but linear, together form the framework of future imperialist confrontations/conflicts.

There is little aura of mystery surrounding the policy of the USA which, on the one hand, is trying to contain the growth of the European currency, and on the other, to encircle Russia. Here we need to recognise how American diplomacy has managed to build a sort of cordon sanitaire, made up of the former Warsaw Pact countries, between so called “Old Europe” and Russia. The game has a possibility of success so long as the bourgeoisies of the East European countries were, and are, carrying out a strategy defined by their adhesion to the European Union and, at the same time, to NATO. All this aims to decisively mark their distance from the troubled Russian neighbour. We don’t expect this to last very long, as Stefanini correctly pointed out;

If the euro unleashes the aggression of the USA in a desperate defence of its own revenue, such aggression will translate into the subsequent synthesis of the process of European political integration.

So for many of those countries the matter would come to a choice - either one side or the other. The trajectory of the current phase could be very short, until its complete deterioration is revealed. In other words Russia, after the blank slate created by Yeltsin and his successors, has the possibility of a revival - thanks, paradoxically, to oil - that same oil revenue which constitutes, on the other hand, one of the major sources of income by which the United States is financed.

For obvious reasons, neither Europe nor other countries can ignore such a partner. Who could abandon a market rich in raw materials and a great importer of manufactured goods? We just need to remember that combined EU-Russian trade in 2005 alone reached the figure of €166 billion and that the EU is Russia’s main trading partner, and it is, in turn, the EU’s third trading partner after the USA and China. And if this is not enough, then consider the figures for 2006, which show an increase of 30% in bilateral trade. So the results of the Samara summit are being carefully evaluated because, besides the persistent legal arguments, a particular need stands out: that of redrawing the old agreement of “strategic partnership” signed in 1997, which is no longer adequate due to the current dimensions of trade and the global relations between those two important economic realities. In particular there is no guarantee of access for European business to Russian markets and distributive networks, and conversely, Russian capital does not have the guaranteed ability to invest in European enterprises. There is no doubt that the situation reveals a very dangerous stalemate as issues have arisen which provoke the distrust, if not the outright hostility of Russia. It is certainly not out of place in the current context to talk about revisiting cold war issues. Here we do not refer simply to skirmishes but rather the political aim of applying pressure, in which the first to put their case, to go into details, are the so-called countries of the ex-Eastern bloc. Whilst we are considering the subject: Poland is the new EU member that is blocking the re-negotiation of the co-operation agreement (PCA) between Russia and the EU because of the Russian embargo on Polish animal and vegetable products. The reason may well be valid but behind the Kaszinskii twins one can discern the hand of the US State Department in whose interests it is that this process of provocation/retaliation goes on ad infinitum. Evidence of this may be seen in the so called “lustracja”, a law that, if it were to be put into practice, would have forced all Poles born before 1972 to compile a statement about themselves as a means to demonstrate if they had had any dealings with the secret services. The Polish constitutional courts have decisively rejected such illiberal and McCarthyite laws. The friction extends to relations with Estonia due to the smashing of the statue of the Soviet soldier and a reduction, not by accident, at the start of May of the transport of goods by rail, by 50%. And also to Lithuania, because Vilnius favoured the Polish company Pkn Orlen in the privatisation of the Mazeikiu refinery, which provoked the interruption, by Russia, of supplies to the refinery.

However, the protagonists of this revisited “cold war” are all brought together, beyond their separate wrangling, by the question of the installation of an antimissile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. In theory, this is for defensive and anti-terrorist aims, but in fact it is pointed at Russia, as a warning. This re-emergence of Russia, its future imperialist role, greatly disturbs American designs. On this subject, the latest news is that Moscow has succeeded in coming to an agreement with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan through which, for all practical purposes, would be written the last word on alternative routes for Russian gas and oil pipes.

If the EU-Russian relationship has not become strong, not everything is going badly. On the horizon are agreements of co-operation regarding research or the European system of satellite navigation, Galileo, although that depends on the development of an early warning system in case of interruption of energy supplies.

It would, therefore, not be inaccurate to define the Samara summit as a “cahier de doleances”1, a stage in a process marked by a confrontation from which Russia and the European Union cannot escape. It represents a very distinct and unstable phase of a game being played by every imperialism, at many levels, to impose their hegemony on the others.

(1) Cahiers de doléances were the list of grievances sent to the Estates General of 1789 on the eve of the bourgeois French Revolution.

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